Corporate Social Media Crisis: 4 Ways to Fight Back

One of the first corporate social media blasts we’ve seen was with America Online (AOL). It all started when an AOL customer called the company to cancel his subscription. The Representative he spoke with was relentless in his attempts to “save the account” – nearly calling the customer a liar over hours of use, belittling the customer – who was 30 years old at the time – by asking to speak to his father, and  badgering him throughout the call. The customer recorded the 21-minute phone conversation and posted it on YouTube. More than 260,000 people have viewed that video and the story was covered by NBC, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and a host of other media giants. AOL’s reputation was irreversibly damaged – by one disgruntled consumer who took his complaint to the Internet.

AOL’s Social Media Crisis

Consumer generated media is on the rise and if not managed, this media can threaten a brand’s global reputation. Firms today must manage and protect their online reputations as aggressively as they manage their offline reputations. Following are four strategies for protecting companies against market damage caused by consumers using social media.

1. Monitor social media for comments about your brand. At a minimum, organizations need to regularly monitor blogs, YouTube, and Twitter for any potentially damaging posts. If a disgruntled consumer goes to the Internet with a complaint about your brand or product, you need to be among the first to know. Some good free social media monitoring sites to explore are:,, and Each of these sites allows users to easily search social media sites in real time for any activity.

2. Respond immediately to any negative social media. Last year, a Domino’s employee uploaded a stomach-turning video to YouTube. The video, which quickly turned viral, shows an employee sticking cheese up his nose before placing it on a sub sandwich and passing gas on a slice of salami. The woman holding the camera narrates. “In about five minutes, they’ll be sent out to delivery.” Dominos didn’t respond publicly to the video immediately, perhaps hoping the video wouldn’t get much attention.  Within a week, the video had over a million views. Don’t wait to respond to a social media crisis. Act immediately to issue a statement or apology and begin taking steps to recover from any damage.

3 Attempt to remove potentially damaging comments about your brand in social media. In some situations, companies can have damaging social media removed. In the case of Dominos, the company was able to have the video deleted because the video producers were employees of the company and they did not have permission to publicly share video featuring employees. If you can successfully argue that the social media posting is a violation of copyright, you can have a damaging video or blog post removed.

4. Listen to online conversations. It’s not only important to monitor social media in order to protect your online reputation, but organizations need to proactively listen to what consumers are saying about the brand. You need to be in the loop on the negative conversations, as this is key data on consumer perception and satisfaction. You listen to online conversations by actually getting in social media communities like Twitter and blogs, engaging consumers, and listening to what consumers are saying.

In the social media era, consumers can reach an audience of thousands in a matter of minutes. Proactively manage and protect your brand by monitoring social media. When you do, you’ll find that any crisis can be quickly averted or minimized.

Social Media Is the New Customer Service: Is your company monitoring complaints on Twitter, FaceBook, and blogs? If not, why not?

We know all the social networking communities you need to be listening to and participating in and we can show you exactly how to do it. We can position your company to surprise and delight consumers who post gripes about your brand online.: View outline/purchase